What Is Section 8 and How Does It Work?


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Section 8 is a shorthand name for Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937. It provides for tenants to be able to rent properties at fair market rates. It does so through the means of a partial rent subsidy administered to private landlords by the government.

It is also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Around 2.1 million households benefit from this plan.

The purpose of Section 8 is to allow those from lower-income households to be able to rent properties of a certain standard within their means. Regulations vary from state to state, but for the most part, it is accepted by landlords on an opt-in basis. In the past, it has been a contentious issue for parties on many sides of the debate.

Section 8: Who Qualifies?

Those wanting to take part in this program must meet certain requirements. As well as this, the properties they choose to rent must meet certain standards and eligibility criteria.

Housing choice vouchers are administered on a local level by public housing agencies. These are also the bodies that determine eligibility. In general, families applying cannot have an income that is more than 50% of the median for the county or city in which they have applied.

A landlord's role in the Section 8 program is to provide participants with a dwelling that meets the program's housing quality standards at a reasonable rent. The landlord signs an agreement with both the tenant and the PHA to uphold their obligations under the program.

Section 8 from State to State

The rules governing Section 8 vary from state to state. In California, for example, a law was recently passed that makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants solely based on a Section 8 housing voucher. This has caused significant changes for some landlords and property owners in San Diego.

Section 8 from a Landlord's Perspective

For landlords, Section 8 tenants can represent an opportunity to do good in the community while generating revenue and filling properties. There are many advantages to opting into this program. Guaranteed prompt payments from the PHA for its share of the rent and a large pool of tenants being two.

Despite this, many landlords hesitate to take on these types of tenants. This is due to the paperwork, mandatory inspections, and prohibitive rental rates involved. This is where a professional property management company can help.

Property managers can handle tenant screening, rent collection, paperwork, and many of the other practicalities involved in having tenants in general, but Section 8 tenants in particular. Working with a property management company to support and handle the administrative and legal matters involved in being a landlord can greatly help to make their properties more lucrative.

A Property Management Company You Can Trust

If you're in San Diego, and you'd like to begin to take on Section 8 tenants but are unsure of where to start, Income Property Advisors can help. From fully serviced property management to general advice, we've got the experience and skill to assist you with whatever you might need. Give us a call today to see what we can do for you.